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My husband and I had a fight on the way to Bellevue, and the  O’Tuesdays  where we ate with our group was about the worst restaurant I’d ever been to.  So by the time we were seated for our showing of Passion of the Christ I was not in the best of moods.    I allow that may be why I did not care for it.  Yes, I felt moved.  But I also felt very much as though I was being compelled through artifice to feel moved.   Anyone who watches a person endure torture and doesn’t feel moved–regardless of their feelings about the person being tortured–has issues that should be seen to in therapy.     But the movie didn’t change me.  It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.  And it ended without the resurrection, so as far as I was concerned it was no missional piece.   It was just Bible-themed torture porn.

So WHY did it make more money than a Dasani machine in Hell?    I keep reading articles about that, and those articles are everywhere now that Noah is on the way.    Some people theorise that it’s because anything with Jesus will sell to the Evangelicals.   Other people bring up the violent aspect and suggest (more politely than I just did) that the extreme level of violence appeals to some moviegoers.

I went with my Sunday School group.   Many people did; in fact everyone I know to have seen it saw it with a church group.   We all got discount tickets via a special package sold through our churches (an issue that troubled me as it tread closely to moneychanging, I thought.)  But that’s not why everyone went.

Dear Hollywood:  Everybody went to see Passion Of The Christ because Mel Gibson sold himself as a Member Of The Team.   We didn’t go to see Jesus.  We didn’t go for a cheap date.   We didn’t go to see a man beaten bloody and suffocating to death.

We went because Mel went to every TV show and magazine in the English-speaking world and told the story about when they filmed the crucifixion scene it was a closeup of HIS hand driving the nail.   And every one of us knew that to be a very deeply personal expression of Christianity because we know the verse that says “when you sin you crucify Christ anew.”  We knew that Mel was One Of Us.

Nothing will motivate Christians faster than to give One Of Us a position in what many of us see  as The Enemy Camp.   We are  in a schizoid culture of faith.  We want to believe that Christian presidents and politicians are a natural and frequent occurence, yet we believe that Christians in “the media” (eg. films and television and newsertainment) are rare as hens’ teeth and often barred from positions higher up the food chain than coffee girl.    So when you tell us that The Biggest Movie Star In The World is part of the faith and that he spent his own money in defiance of The Studios to make this movie about Jesus…well, you’ve just passed the biggest offering plate in the world.

Parenting a dog is often like having one of those first-generation voice-command phones.   You have to be veeeery careful not only of what you say but how you say it.  Because the thing they learn is the thing you’re going to be stuck repeating a thousand times a week.    So just as my father had to shout “DAVE TWO HOME” in just exactly the right way to get his phone to dial my brother’s house, I am stuck saying some mightily bizarre things to get my dogs to respond correctly.

The prime example begins with my Croc Knock-offs.   I was told in one of the fora for sick people who whinge to each other about how sick we are (there are only a few of those on the internet) that Crocs were the best shoes for arthritic feet.  And I don’t mean “oh, these are the best shoes.”  I mean “These shoes will cause you to send letters to your God and the gods of all other religions and your congressional representative to express your gratitude for the wonder of how they cradle your feet.”    It was an emphatic and near-endless endorsement.   So I got a pair of knock-offs on close-out at Target.  This is a side benefit to not having children.  You can take your vacations when everyone else is back at work in September.  That means you can shop for those vacations when all the vacation clothing is on close-out.   Of course this means you head to Disney World in what are effectively society’s unwanted castoffs.  But they are bargain castoffs.  So.  And so.

These shoes were indeed the bargain cast-offs of the Croc world.  Two dollars apparently buys you an open sandal in vivid magenta, with a weird sort of bias crossing the top of your foot.   Are the comfortable?  Very.   Could I walk all over Disney World unaided by the wheelchair?  Were these Crocs the Marjoe Gortner of footwear, healing my feet on contact?  Not quite.

Can I wear these shoes anywhere other than a Floridian vacation destination without looking like someone who has to have her home address pinned inside her shirt before she leaves the house?   No.  Emphatically no.    That means when we returned home to Tennessee and our furry surrogate children, the Most Wonderful Shoes In Creation got relegated to the basement closet.   The only time I wear them is when I have to slide something on in a hurry to get my  disobedient dogs to stop re-enacting a Duran Duran video and come inside.

Now, when I reach the point of charging outdoors in the dead of winter to bring in dogs who have been called (thrice) and “didn’t hear”, I am not in the best of moods.   And I am not hesitant to tell the dog about that mood, either.   “You made me get my pink shoes!! That is NOT good, young man.  GET IN THAT HOUSE!!!!”      After a month I found  that  even opening the back door with the pink shoes on my feet got them to hustle inside.     Fast-forward three months to March.   “Come in” doesn’t work.  “Get inside” works sporadically.   But open the back door and yell “PINK SHOES”…the dogs come running.     And yes, it’s great to have them come on command.  But I’m still stuck with yelling what sounds like nonsense out my back door.

Ashen Wednesday

Appropriately enough I received a follow-up call this morning from the Oncology Center regarding my anemia.   Time for another infusion of iron and injection of B12!   I appreciate that life has that much of a sense of humour.

Probably in tandem with my recent rage I’m also enjoying the sickest bent of humour in society lately.   This is the type of mood wherein I laugh at bleak jokes.  Then again, I’m always  one to be struck funny at funerals.   It’s not polite, but there you go.  I’m ghoulish.     I’m repeating here the thing that happened yesterday and was posted to facebook because I want to keep it for always and if there’s one thing about FB that sucks it’s the complete lack of permanence.    Everything ostensibly stays in their vaults but YOU can’t access it.   Sometimes I wonder if they don’t do that on purpose.   For whatever reason it means that although I may use the site as sort of a micro-blog  it is in NO way a journaling tool.  If you don’t want to lose a recipe you have to put it in bookmarks or Pinterest.   If you don’t want to lose an anecdote you have to blog it.

Thus beginneth the repeat:

I was watching a true crime show where a woman’s dismemebered body was found floating in a lake near her family home.   There was the requisite segment where those who knew her talked about how devastated they were by this.   (And of course we had to hear the usual tommyrot about “why kill her?  She was so pretty!”  As though we are fine with ugly people being slaughtered.)   Her former boss, the editor in chief of the local paper said  that everyone was asking “why? why? why? And it was because Karen was such a bouyant young woman and everyone liked her.”   

That really happened.  And it will never not crack me up.

Thus endeth the repeat.

And yes, it is Ash Wednesday, which means that we begin Lent.   I didn’t grow up practicing Lent.  It’s one of those High Church things that the Mennonites abjure out of tradition as much as anything else.   It wasn’t until 2000 that Lent became more of a practice in the Low Church; now most places at least name-check it.    I personally have a philosophical objection to the Give Something Up idea; since I didn’t grow up in a church where it was a matter of course and therefore part of the fabric of my tradition it strikes me now as odd.    We’re celebrating Christ’s sacrifice that allows us to approach the throne of Grace…by focusing on _works_?   It seems wrong-footed to me.    I do use the 40 days to focus on Wandering and to ponder the miracle of Grace.

For me the worst part of Lent are the casual jokes:  “Im so ready to get back to eating chocolate! I can’t take it!”   It seems to make too light of something that is very essential to the faith.   Which I realise now is odd coming from a woman who just 300 words ago admitted she laughs at funerals.

Lately I’ve been inundated with things that are related to my primary fiction work.   I’ll turn on a news program and they’re airing a story that has a direct link to my novel’s world.   A friend will text me a piece of information ostensibly for some other purpose and it will fit neatly into place in my story.

It’s a very strange feeling, because it truly seems like the lines between that world in my head and the world outside of it are breaking down.  It’s either madness or the very strange fuel that propels creativity forward.

I’ve always hated that stereotype of the author as a mad creature with a tenuous hold on reality.  If anything an author has to consume much more reality than the average person.   Telling people about whole worlds requires that one be observant of whole worlds.   (Yet another reason most works by people under 35 have a lack of flavour.)    So yes, you can’t be insane and still be a writer.

But perhaps you can feel a bit unmoored by the fluidity of it all.

I’ve spent a lot of time writing fiction.  So I haven’t been doing long-form journaling.  That’s a good thing because the stuff I’m inclined to write about isn’t that palatable.

I’ve been so frustrated with the selfishness in the world and all the ways I see it implemented, and yet I feel if I write about it that crosses the line into me, myself being  just as selfish as the things I’m judging.   And I’m frustrated with myself for judging at all.  It’s a sin, it’s Christ’s grave warning to us and it’s a temptation I’ve been acceding to far more than I should.

I think it was selfish of a man with children to abuse drugs and to kill himself.

I think it is selfish for someone who has married another person to leave that person when he is sick with a mental illness.

I think it is selfish for people to insist that their religious beliefs must dictate the public policy of a nation where not everyone shares those religious beliefs.

I think it  is selfish for  me to make a list of things that other people have done.   Good lord, aren’t I selfish enough for all of the world?  Yes.  Yes I am.  I’m selfish for not working to be outside of my own head more often to be there for the people who need me.  I’m selfish to think that  my opinion is worth more than another person’s.  I’m selfish to think that after reading a few articles or blog entries I can know all of the dynamics of a private life or private relationship.    I’m selfish for using other people’s problems as  a way to distract myself from my own.

And I’m realising as I sit here and bang these thoughts out on the keys that I’ve gotten to the place where I’m allowing my judgemental nature to supercede any kindness or grace that I could be showing.

Then there’s the bigger question:  what in my life right now has me so angry that I have  this anger I’m turning outward.   I don’t think it’s my health; I’ve been dealing with health issues so long it’s almost a non-issue on several levels.   But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe I’m not coming to terms with it in the way I thought.   Maybe I’m angry that my parents are aging past the point of being able to laugh it off.     Maybe I’m angry that I feel trapped in a situation where I can’t work.     I don’t know.  I need to think about it.   But in the meantime, I’ve written this down in a place where folks can bear witness, press down and shake together the judgement I’ve meted out against others and hold me to it.

If it weren’t for the commandment that gives everyone a permanent day off, I think this might be people’s favourite.  After all, “Thou Shalt Not Take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” doesn’t seem too hard to do, does it?   All you have to do is not say “Oh my god!” or use the name of Jesus as an expletive and you’re in the clear.   

Right?  

Lately I’ve seen a lot of what I’d consider to be more closely resembling what this commandment is talking about, though, and it’s coming from people who would NEVER say Jesus as an expletive.   

How many times have you heard someone (perhaps yourself?) justifying a course of action that the _human_ wants to take by saying “it’s God’s Will” or “the Lord has called me to….”      I am quite honestly amazed at how much time the Lord calls people to buy new houses or get new cars.   Living in Nashville I run into a lot of writers and musicianss who claim that it’s God’s Will that they Use Their Gift To Glorify Him! and Gig Full-Time.   They seem to miss the verses that talk about how it’s God’s will that a man provide for his family.    

—–

1 Timothy 5:8 ESV / 71 helpful votes

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

—-

That’ll harsh your mellow, right there.   

Being a woman I know a lot of people who claim it’s God’s Will that they be a stay at home mom.   A lot of times–BUT NOT ALWAYSthis is more code for “my home life is familiar and comfortable and I don’t want to face the unfamiliar world of working outside the home.”   Other times it’s code for “I often feel insecure around people who have careers with fancy titles, but if I can claim that I’m Empowered by God than that puts me on a more level playing field, or perhaps even sets me slightly above, in a position where I can look down on them instead of them looking down on me.”   I also know a lot of people who claim God’s will that they work outside the home, and THAT can sometimes be code for “I am so sick of laundry if I have to do another load or drive another carpool I may knife the cat!”

In my own life I had to make my peace with the fact that it isn’t God’s will that I be a mother to biological children, nor is it God’s will that i be healed right now.   And it took me quite a long time and a great many arguments to make that peace with my own vanity.  Because that’s what these things are.  Vain.  We want what we want–the essence of vanity–and we use God’s name to make it look okay.  

That is the very essence of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and that’s the commandment that we so often break.

 

 

I started going public with this rant when I was not blogging.  I think maybe it’s part of my return to blogging, because when you put it on your blog you don’t have to deal with the “please shut up now” glares from the people around you.   It’s nice how the internet lets me be crazily annoying in my own little box.   Schroedinger’s Kat:  Is she weirding out or not?

Shroedinger’s Cat is actually the tip of the iceberg, because it’s one of the few geek things that has been distilled through the copper tubes of pop culture and dripped into the waiting cup of the masses.   People who want to sound geeky but don’t want to eat the whole potato can swig off the essence of the joke without committing to the root.    Then of course we get into the conversation about Who Is Geekier and Can You Be A Geek If You Haven’t Seen X or Can You Really Like Y If You Don’t Have A Menacing Tumblr Dedicated To All Things Y ?

That’s not the point.  The point is that the powers that be have decided to exploit the gently naive and often insecure geek panoply in order to sell more stuff.    Let’s take two examples:

1. Cars.  If you want  to sell a car to generic people you have to make a series of ads about the car for print and visual media.  You have to buy ad time and pray that people don’t go to the necessary while you have your thirty-five seconds of paid assault.

If you want to sell a car to geek people you just have to have a cool geek gimmick like the vader kid using the force or the dueling spocks racing to the golf course.   Then you put it on YouTube and let the geeks watch it over and over again and post it to their FBs and make their friends watch it over and over again.

2. Movies.   If you want to sell your movie about anything other than geek culture you have to buy ads and do publicity tours.   But if you want to sell to the geek culture you _charge them for tickets to a “convention”_, give them a peak at 30 seconds of the unfinished movie and let them handle the press for you.   They’ll spend months debating and discussing the footage.  They’ll joke about it on Twitter.  And next year they’ll buy another ticket to  the convention to meet the guy who was in the film for 5 minutes and they’ll pay him $10 to sign a photo of himself.

One of the things I have always loved about being a geek is the passion.  If a geek loves something they LOVE it.  You get their passion and devotion because you become part of their cosmos.    It bothers me, though, how cunning people are mining that passion to their own ends AND causing friction in the geek community.  (“You aren’t A Big Name Fan! You don’t have as much street cred as I!”)

So yes, I enjoy Doctor Who and I love Sherlock.  I’m big into Star Wars and Star Trek.  But you won’t be seeing many YouTube videos from me to promote those things because, well, I’m not paid for my time.   I think it’s high time those folks start buying ad space like everyone else who is selling something.

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